Life Advice



Ask Amy: Volatile relationship benefits from separation

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I am a 35-year-old professional woman, recently separated from my husband of nine years.

Our marriage has been rife with volatility due to his uncontrollable anger and my tumultuous relationship with alcohol during our relationship.

That being said, we have worked through most of our issues. He’s my best friend.

I’m in therapy and have a treatment team that has helped me to overcome my alcohol abuse disorder, as well as years of insecurity, codependency, and anxiety.

I am in a good place and no longer have room in my life for violence, anger, and abuse.

My husband and I recently got into an argument where he put his hands on me to remove me from a room.

I was shocked that he would put his hands on me during an argument where we were both sober and working at home.

He has since been apologetic and has enrolled in anger management therapy. I've wanted him to do this for years, but I fear it might be too late.

I have a graduate degree and am an assertive, independent woman who doesn't take any nonsense.

With this situation, however, I feel anything but those things.

Am I completely off my rocker to think things might still work between us? Or should I cut my losses and try to start my life over?

– Woeful Woman

Dear Woeful: You should not risk your physical or emotional safety — or your sobriety – in order to live with your husband.

Based on your narrative, it seems that the majority of your time together has been marked by anger and strife – on both sides. Can you two move forward in a relationship where many of the triggers might remain, but all of your familiar coping mechanisms have been removed? You’ll have to see.

If you are working your sobriety program, I assume that you have become acquainted with the “one day at a time” model.

My point is that thinking of this as all-or-nothing might not be the wisest course right now.

You and he should remain separated so you can both experience what life is like when you’re actually living differently as individuals in recovery.

The answer to your dilemma is likely to present itself over the course of the next six months or so.

Even if you decide to permanently part, you should not have to surrender your friendship.


Dear Amy: My girlfriend and I have been together for about five years. We are both progressing in our careers and making strides personally, professionally, and as a couple.

We are at the point where we are ready to take the next step. My girlfriend wants to move to Florida. She wants me to come too, but she plans to go one way or the other in the next year or two.

I love Florida, but all of my friends and family are here in New England. My mom is independent and doesn’t necessarily rely on me, but she would be devastated if I left.

After my dad died (about 10 years ago), my sister and mom have relied on me to be there for them. Truthfully, I would miss being there for them, too.

I know I’d always be a phone call away, but it’s just not the same.

I love my girlfriend more than anything and I don’t want to lose her, but I’m not sure I’m ready to move away from my home and everyone I know.

How can I make this decision – one way or the other?

– Uncertain

Dear Uncertain: You should start by very honestly trying to decode your own motivations. Surely your mother would miss you, but would she be devastated? Talk to her about this. Are you genuinely necessary to your family, or are you afraid to move?

Being nervous about leaving home is completely natural. It speaks to your sensitive and compassionate nature.

You don’t need to have a definitive answer right now. After your girlfriend moves, you could transition to a long-distance relationship, which should help you to clarify all of your competing priorities.

Dear Amy: Responding to “Bay Area Stepmom Cook,” whose son-in-law hates onions, she should cook the onions first. It takes away that bitter taste. They can be roasted or fried to a light brown, and they develop a sweet taste.

– SC

Dear SC: Thank you for the suggestion, but judging from my mailbag, there are many people out there who just don’t like onions!

“Stepmom Cook” saw this as a character flaw.


(You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

©2022 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.



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